Bucks Knocks Out Hunger faces its ‘toughest year’

Bucks Knock Out Hunger

This article originally appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times and The Intelligencer.

The change in community conditions and increased need for food means that long-running programs, like the United Way of Bucks County’s Bucks Knocks Out Hunger, need to grow and adapt to meet local needs.

Three months ago, Fresh Connect, a program that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to people in Bucks County who are food insecure, was a busy enterprise. On some Fridays, over 200 households would come to fill their baskets, wagons, or recycled grocery bags with produce. While that volume was challenging for program organizers to manage, they never ran out of food.

Last Friday they did.

The change in community conditions and increased need for food means that long-running programs, like the United Way of Bucks County’s Bucks Knocks Out Hunger, need to grow and adapt to meet local needs.

“I have been managing Bucks Knocks Out Hunger for seven years,” says Tim Philpot, Director of Financial Stability and Health at United Way of Bucks County. “This will be our toughest year, both because of the need in the community — and the need for social distancing.”

Since the emergence of local COVID-19 cases — and the subsequent stay-at-home orders — the number of people seeking help at Fresh Connect has tripled. Lines of cars full of people waiting to access food have grown so long, fire police are needed to manage the traffic flow.

The most recent data compiled by United Way of Pennsylvania shows that 32% of families in Bucks County were already struggling to make ends meet. For these families, the economic effects of COVID-19 have been devastating.

Skyrocketing unemployment is sending more people looking for help with food. According to the Center for Workforce Information and Analysis of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, there were 4,815 claims for continued unemployment during the week ending March 28, 2020. By the week ending May 9, that number was 10 times higher at 48,239.

Bucks Knocks Out Hunger has always raised funds to provide hunger relief countywide. According to organizers at United Way, the extraordinary demand COVID-19 has placed on the hunger relief system means that this campaign is more important than ever. They say that they need to raise at least $100,000 to bolster food pantries and Fresh Connect.

For the first time, funds raised will also support home delivery of foods to people who are low-income, shut in, unable to shop for themselves — and unable to get to hunger relief sites like Fresh Connect or their local food pantry.

In past years, a mass meal-packing event has engaged over 600 volunteers working side-by-side to make 150,000 shelf-stable meals. This year, social distancing means organizers must change their plans.

Instead of packing meals, Bucks Knocks Out Hunger will include a countywide food drive on June 20. Employing a drive-through, no-touch system, volunteers will take food from trunks of cars or beds of trucks while drivers stay inside. Organizers hope to gather at least 25,000 pounds of canned goods and other non-perishable items to be distributed by food pantries.

“The countywide food drive is incredibly important, but we really need people to know how important the fundraising is, too,” says United Way of Bucks County CEO Marissa Christie. “Donations mean that we can get milk, yogurt, eggs, and fresh produce to pantries. As a parent, I can’t imagine not having these things for my kids.”

“Imagine trying to feed your family with only canned and dried foods,” adds Philpot. “One of the best things about BKO Hunger is that funds raised give pantries the flexibility to purchase and distribute exactly what people need — and what they don’t have on hand. People relying on food pantries truly appreciate getting fresh choices.”

Donations to Bucks Knocks Out Hunger are accepted online at www.uwbucks.org/bkohunger. Contributions also may be made at branches of Penn Community Bank or by mailing a check (note BKO Hunger on the memo line) to United Way, 413 Hood Blvd., Fairless Hills, PA 19030. Times and locations for food drop offs can also be found on the organization’s website.


Join us in changing lives in Bucks County for good by making a donation today. Donations can be made online or by mailing a check to, United Way of Bucks County, 413 Hood Blvd., Fairless Hills, PA 19030.